A publication of Appalachian Voices

A publication of Appalachian Voices

Across Appalachia

The Case of the Shrinking Salamanders

By Amber Ellis

This year marked the hottest May and June in global record-keeping history, and it seems like salamanders across Appalachia are withering in the heat.

A June study in Global Change Biology found that climate change may be having a negative effect on six Appalachian salamander species. According to the study, spells of hotter, drier weather puts extra strain on the cold-blooded amphibians, requiring more energy for them to live and grow.

Appalachia boasts the greatest salamander diversity in the world, and their prevalence and abundance makes them an integral part of regional ecosystems. Their shrinking population means less food for birds and small mammals, and has the potential to disrupt the entire food chain.

Climate change may be impacting the human food chain as well, according to sustainability nonprofit Ceres. The organization released a study this June asserting that climate change puts U.S. corn production and, by extension, the entire national food system at risk.

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